Grant Montgomery – Grant’s Rants on Applying the Beatitudes

Modern society lives by the rules of survival of the fittest. As one bumper sticker reads, “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” So does the nation with the best weapons and the largest Gross National Product.

The American Dream could be defined as reaching a point in your life where you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do and can do everything that you want to do. While that may be the American Dream, it decidedly is not the Jesus Dream as revealed in the Beatitudes.

The Beatitudes express quite plainly that God views this world through a different set of lenses. God seems to prefer the poor and those who mourn to the Fortune 500 and supermodels. Strength, good looks, connections, and the competitive instinct may bring a person success in a society like ours, but those very qualities may block entrance to the kingdom of heaven. Dependence, sorrow, repentance, and a longing to change are the gates to Gods kingdom.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, said Jesus. One commentary translates that as “Blessed are the desperate”. With nowhere else to turn, the desperate just may turn to Jesus, the only one who can offer the deliverance they long for. Jesus really believed that a person who is poor in spirit, or mourning, or persecuted, or hungry and thirsty for righteousness has a peculiar advantage over the rest of us.

Whereas [changing the Beatitudes to its opposite], the rich do not know they are in urgent need of redemption, the rich rest their security on things, etc.

When Jesus said “Blessed are the poor” or “Blessed are the peace-makers” it was to say, “Pay attention: These are the people you should aspire to be like. This is the group you want to belong to.”

So what kind of people did Jesus say we should seek to be identified with?
The nonviolent and the gentle.
The poor and those in solidarity with them.
Those who work for peace and reconciliation.
Those who stand for justice as the prophets did, who refuse to back down when they are slandered, mocked, misrepresented, threatened and harmed.

Let’s take this a step further. Try something far more threatening: I asked myself if my own attitudes more resembled those of the poor or of the rich.

Do I easily acknowledge my needs? Do I readily depend on God and on other people? Where does my security rest? Am I more likely to compete or cooperate? Can I distinguish between necessities and luxuries?

Do the Beatitudes sound to me like good news or like a scolding?

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

[NIV translation of the Beatitudes]

[Inspired by “The Jesus I Never Knew” by Philip Yancey, and “We Make the Road by Walking” by Brian McLaren]

Grant Montgomery – Grant’s Rants on Applying the Beatitudes